For nearly two months, Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars were without a head coach. Urban Meyer was fired on Dec. 16 with four weeks to go in the season, giving Jacksonville a seeming head start on other clubs to locate its next leader.
However, it wasn’t until Thursday night, right around 50 days after Meyer’s takeoff, that the Jags observed their person in previous Philadelphia Eagles mentor Doug Pederson.
For Lawrence, the wait for a new director left him and the team directionless, but Saturday’s introductory press conference of Pederson felt, finally, like the start of something special.
“We’re really excited obviously,” Lawrence told Jaguars group columnist Ashlyn Sullivan on Saturday. “I conversed with him momentarily on the telephone Thursday night, and afterward today, first time meeting him face to face, simply appears to be a truly extraordinary person. Clearly, he’s had a ton of achievement. His resume sort of represents itself with no issue. He’s a hostile person, played quarterback in the NFL. Those things make me truly energized, and it’s something that I’m simply eager to get to work with him and see what he offers of real value.
“I believe everyone’s energized. Everyone’s truly assuaged we got our person, and to have the option to push ahead and go to work presently is a truly nice sentiment.”
Lawrence struggled early in his rookie season, as first-year quarterbacks are wont to do. The former Clemson QB completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 3,641 yards, 12 TDs and a league-high 17 INTs as Jacksonville stumbled to a league-worst 3-14 record. In an uninspiring offense, Lawrence did not look comfortable in the pros until late in the campaign.
In the wake of working for under a season under Meyer, a long-term school mentor who never played in the NFL, Lawrence sees in Pederson, a previous NFL quarterback who’s instructed in the masters beginning around 2009, somebody to whom he can relate and with whom he can succeed.
“He played the quarterback position,” Lawrence clarified, “so he sees it from my perspective more so than a great deal of mentors that haven’t played the position.”
A major reason Pederson was considered and eventually hired to be the seventh head coach in Jaguars history was to get the most out of Lawrence, the 2021 first overall pick and face of the franchise. Pederson struck gold in Philadelphia with 2016 second overall pick Carson Wentz in the QB‘s second season before he was lost to a season-ending knee injury, and he worked wonders with journeyman backup Nick Foles when Wentz went down, as Philly marched to an improbable win in Super Bowl LII and its first title.
Pederson desires to present to Jacksonville its first Lombardi Trophy by working comparative wizardry with the massively capable Lawrence.
“That’s something I obviously looked at with the teams that were searching for head coaches, ‘Who is the quarterback?’ and ‘Is that person in place?’ And here, it is, I truly believe that,” Pederson said Saturday of Lawrence. “Everything, as I’ve done my research on Trevor and talked to people, even talked to coaches who have played against them this past year say nothing but great things and kind of the sky’s the limit.
“I’m simply eager to come in here, focus in and go to work, make a framework that improves his range of abilities and be effective.”
If the pair’s first interactions in Duval are any indication, the Jaguars are in good hands.